Instead of allowing the villi and microvilli to absorb nutrients from the food, the bacteria digest it instead, causing it to ferment. A bi-product of the bacteria’s digestion is methane and/or hydrogen gas, which is only produced by the bacteria and not our bodies.
These gases cause bloating, wind, cramping, diarrhoea, burping, constipa- tion and more. It is also believed this gas can cause leaky gut syndrome, where the cell wall of the gut becomes permeable and allows food particles through to the blood stream, which creates an immune response.
The other side effect of SIBO is damage to the villi and microvilli, which results in nutrients not being absorbed. When the bacteria digest your food, it means they’re taking a lot of the nutrients before it makes it to you, which leads to malabsorption of monosaccharides, amino acids, vitamins (especial- ly B12 and folic acid) and minerals (especially magnesium, iron and calcium).
Some side effects of poor nutrient absorption can include fatigue, hormo- nal imbalances, and restless leg syndrome.
Other damage caused by the bacterial overgrowth can be the suspension of the natural muscular wave that occurs every ninety minutes, to push food along. This further increases the time food spends in the small intes- tine and its ability to ferment.
Foods containing fermentable fibre, starch, lactose and fructose can make SIBO symptoms worse. Foods that contain gluten, grains, starches like pota- toes, legumes and pulses, fruits and some vegetables are problematic. And despite the promotion that we should be having a high fibre diet with the use of fibre supplements, this only exacerbates the problem and people suffering SIBO will feel worse, not better, when using supplements.
SIBO generates toxins, which put pressure on the lymphatic system, the immune system and our body’s own detoxification system.
Unfortunately, SIBO goes largely undiagnosed which can result in years of damage to the small intestine. People may develop intolerances to certain foods like gluten, lactose or fructose as the small intestine becomes less equipped to manage it.
SIBO is a major cause for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It is difficult to treat other digestive problems if SIBO remains present, and the longer it re- mains in the small intestine, the more damage it can cause.